What is the Office Graph and how can we use it?
A couple of weeks ago, Microsoft starting rolling out a new product called Office Delve. Office Delve is currently available to Office 365 customers and can be described as a product that helps you discover content across your business. However, Delve is only a small piece of this puzzle because it is simply the UX (user experience) that utilizes the Office Graph.
The Office Graph is a sophisticated machine learning platform that creates relationships between content, people, and activities that currently sit in Office 365. Here is a video that describes what the Office Graph does and how Delve uses it.
What is the Office Graph?
If you’re a large organization who has been using (or will be using) Office 365 you will no doubt have a lot of content scattered across many SharePoint Sites, Exchange Mailboxes, and even OneDrive for Business folders. Having all of this content scattered everywhere creates a discoverability problem. We lose track of all of the places where content resides. We don't know what our colleagues are working on, and eventually may lose interest all together. Office 365 eventually becomes a place where we store our content, but it becomes stale and less enjoyable to use. While we can use search to quickly find specific content that we already know about, we lose sight of the big picture.
This is where the Office Graph promises to help. The Office Graph will take all of this content and build relationships between the content and the people in your organization. It will learn your relationships with other people and understand that the content and ideas they create are probably more relevant to you. When you use Delve, this content (which has been customized to be more relevant to you) will be presented to you first in an appealing and visual experience. This allows you to discover content that is relevant for you, save time and energy, and hopefully make Office 365 a more helpful and enjoyable experience.
How can we use the Office Graph?
Here are some of the views into the Office Graph that we have through the Office Delve interface:
- My Work - Shows content that you have modified. This makes it easy to find things you're working on and see the impact it has with other people in the organization.
- Shared with me - Shows content that has been specifically shared with you, typically through OneDrive for Business.
- People - See the content that other people are working on. You'll see the content that may be most relevant to you first.
- Search - Get search results for keywords and phrases sorted by what is most relevant to you. This is different than a typical SharePoint search which would rank the content across the organization as a whole rather than being personalized for you.
How does the Office Graph work?
At a high level, the Office Graph gathers information from your Office 365 services including SharePoint, Exchange, and OneDrive for business. It then determines how this content is related and builds an index. The index is assessable through the SharePoint Online Search REST API. This means that applications, including Office Delve, can simply use the API to query the Office Graph and show relevant information.
Currently the Office Graph pulls information from SharePoint, Exchange, and OneDrive for Business. You can use Office Delve to see what's in the Office Graph.
In the future, as new features are released, the Office Graph will be able to pull information from Yammer, Lync, and even other 3rd party services that contribute to the Office Graph. You will still be able to view the content using Office Delve, but since the Office Graph is accessible through the Search REST API, you will also see others applications that can use the information in interesting ways.
How can we start using the Office Graph now?
If you’re a business user on the Office 365 service, you may already have the Delve app available to you. Look for it in your Office 365 top navigation.
If you do not see the link to Delve, it may not be available to you yet. Microsoft is rolling it out over time to Office 365 tenants. Your Office 365 administrator can opt-in to the First Release program if you want to get Delve and other new features in Office 365 sooner rather than later.
If you’re a developer, you can start looking at the GQL (Graph Query Language) used to query the Office Graph. You can start building your own applications using the Office Graph today! Just keep in mind that the APIs are in preview and are subject to change.